Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm taking it personally, and yes, I know I shouldn't.

Okay, I had a bad time (other than getting to see my friends Sunday) this past weekend, I've been yelling at Verizon for two solid days, and there was an Easter Egg in the bailout bill that just came to light yesterday. Didn't sleep last night. Today, just to keep sane, I was going to go up to the yarn store and buy whatever the hell caught my fancy, just because the pretty yarnbits would soothe me and keep me from going ballistic. Then I get THIS in my mailbox.

From Marie, the owner of Stitch DC:

"A bit of sad news today, this past Sunday was the last day of business at our current Georgetown location. There is no change at Capitol Hill - our original and flagship store.

Why am I closing Georgetown? The story is like that experienced by so many other small local businesses in Georgetown. The lease was up for renewal. Our building sold in January. The new landlord wanted dramatically more rent for our little space. In the end, we could not come to terms. So I decided that I like Grey Yarn better than Grey Hair.

Now looking forward, I can focus all my time on giving you all more great free class sessions on weekends. I can pack the Hill store with more yarn. It will be one stop shopping. And Auntie (my sister), Alan and I will pursue adding a Coffee/Tea bar to Capitol Hill. We've always wanted to do this. The Courtyard just begs to be used. So now I can focus my attention on that.

Closing Georgetown is sad for me. I love that little space. But I am excited about the future. I look forward to seeing you all at the Capitol Hill store. And with your continued support and inspiration, I look forward to opening again soon in NW. But for now, see you on Cap Hill!"

Now, I certainly don't want to put Marie & Co out out business (like the STUPID GEORGETOWN LANDLORD!!!), so they've got to make the business decisions that work for them. However, the ONLY good thing about my current work location was that yarn store. Otherwise, there's no parking, no nearby bus (without going up a huge hill or flight of stairs - with these knees), and it's a mile walk to the Metro. Plus, the building is trying to kill me (or the building management, with all their little scented products, flowers, and motion-sensing bathroom lights). My people are really lucky I like working with them so much or this would officially be the Last Straw. I am going to go into a corner and pout now.

Art, with Sheep. But in a whole new way...

Well, after a lot of soul-searching and thinking and debating with myself, I will *not* be trying to get to Maryland Sheep & Wool or Rhinebeck this year. The allergies are already responding to treatment, but if I give it one more year, then I may actually be able to enjoy myself without fear that I'll have to walk back to the hotel just to get away from the allergens. So, no Sheep & Wool. I will, however, be hitting Nature's Yarns and hanging out that weekend - because for some reason, things are really really slow just then!

There's a cute webcomic out there, Knit Princess. The link goes to my favorite strip. It's pretty new, so it won't take that long to read 'em all.

But, I can bring you some sheep and wool... with SHEEP ART!!!

Those are the best-trained sheepdogs. EVER.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Oooo! Sarah Leigh, who owns The Scarlet Thread, has joined the blogiverse! RemedialStitcher is her new blog. Go say "hi"!!

In case you missed it on Lime & Violet, there's a nifty little site out there called Clearance Craft and Hobby Books. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Books, but for Le$$!!

In the land of allergies, I survived my first shots, and the new dosing level of loratadine (the generic of Claritin) meant that I sat on the rug of my friend-with-cats-and-dog's house for two hours with NO symptoms. This is a good thing. In the land of Verizon, I got to spend about an hour on the phone AGAIN (it's becoming a weeky thing) trying to get my bill straightened out AGAIN. A nice woman named "Ms. Nelson" who, in my opinion, doesn't get paid enough, tried really, really hard to fix everything. Hopefully it worked, because I'm pretty much out of patience with the phone company at this point.

In the land of knitting (which is, after all, why you're here), Progress was made.

Sort of.

See, I needed my 12" size 1 addi circulars to switch off the DPNs on the Serenity Blanket (this is BettyLovesYarn's version - pretty!). They were, as of Friday night, living in my Fisherman and His Wife Socks, Socks #2 from Sanguine Gryphon's Fairy Tale Sock Club #1. So, I had to finish up the leg of the sock that needed a leg finished. Thus, I did. So, the 12" needles went into the Serenity Blanket... and I knitted. A lot. Switched up to size 2, 16". Knitted more. Now switched up to size 4, 20" , which will be the final needle size, but not length - because now I'm using my Addi Clicks (this Earthsong Fibers link has the best photos - click on "larger image" to see)!! That means I just have to switch out cords as my blanket grows more, which is the entire point of mulitpoint cabled needles, right? I just haven't had something to use them on like this before, so I'm very excited. So far, I am LOVING these needles. I'm a fan of Addi Turbos, anyway, but this is just like Extra Bonus Goodness. And the blanket is coming along very nicely. See?

Colors here truer than in previous photo

I'm probably going to have to get more yarn, since a whole lot of knitting hasn't resulted in all that much blanket as yet. I'm thinking coordinating colors, with some green mixed in. Need to find a Purled Llama Dulce seller hereabouts to see if there's anything that would work nicely. Depending on how it goes, it's possible that there might be two color changes... which might look just as pretty, or even prettier... two colors for the blankie, another for the edging? Just as long as it stays being pretty fall colors.

Back to the Fisherman and His Wife Socks, mentioned before. So, now I've done both legs, and I'm up to the heel. Not ONLY did it take an hour of digging through my freshly-reorganized stash to find the other three colors of yarn I need for the dratted socks, but I left the pattern at work. AT WORK. So despite feeling very much like digging into this very cool checkerboard-looking heel, I had no clue what to do next, so I had to stop.

And in future startitis incidents, I should be getting a call today from Nature's Yarns to see if they can order me a copy of the Midnight Sun Tam from Simply Shetland. As soon as I have my paws on that pattern, I'm STARTING THAT SUCKER!!


Friday, March 27, 2009

More startitis strikes!

Okay, so I started what is either going to be a really small blanket or a about-right stroller throw... and I think I've decided that Stroller Snuggies are the way I'm going to go. About when the project gets less-than-enchanting to me, it's done! Plus, it buys me some time. Babies are frequently born in the spring and summer. Not a lot of call for knitted things for spring and summer - especially summer. However - the little ones, being born to warmth, aren't really crazy about fall and winter, when it gets colder. And baby sizes are notoriously undependable... babies tend to GROW. Really, really fast, too. A stroller snuggie? Not size dependent, and come their first cold season, the little guy or gal will appreciate it. (Mind you, he or she won't really understand what's going on at that point, other than "soft thing makes happy".) So, stroller snuggies.

Enter the Serenity Blanket.

Laura Martos's finished model. Shiny!

(It's a free Ravelry download, but there's a link on Laura's blog, Fibercrack'd. Yes, this is the same Laura from Dizzy Blonde and The Mean Girls Yarn Club.)

Nulav (see linked photo) has started hers with the called-for worsted weight, in a pretty sage green. It's going to be stunning, and you'll note - I must've started correctly, since my little blankie-start looks like hers. See?

I told you I had to use my new stitch-markers on something!

Because I'm insane (or just hopelessly optimistic), I opted for serendipity - I had a ball of Purled Llama "Dulce" fall out of a basket (the half-price basket!) and land on me in pretty earthy autumn shades. (It's a custom color. Of course, there's just one ball.) It's a superwash merino wool that *can* be machine washed (albeit separately, due to the potential for some of the dye to be not-quite-fast), and ooooo. It's soft! Also warm. So, rather than starting on size 4 needles and kicking up to 5s or 6s, I'm scooting around on size 1s. (Not quite as bad as you think; remember, I'm a loose knitter. Er, rather, I knit loosely. *Sigh.*)

The good news is that by the end of the day, I should be on circular needles. (Sad when 100 stitches is still 'a bit small' to get onto a 12" circular needle, but there you have it.) That assumes, of course, that no one has any actual work for me to do. Y'all have a great weekend now, y'hear?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: the "Most Beautiful Yarn"

Today, it's all about looking at the pretty. All of these lovely yarns came up during a Google search of "most beautiful yarn". Click the photo to go to its original page and read all about it! Per usual, YoT photos belong to those to whom they are attributed (but their bandwith isn't being filched, I promise!).

Lime&Sugar got some Three Irish Girls, colorway Tierney. Oooooo!

Argosy Scarf, as seen at the Unwind Yarn House

Dye-O-Rama yarn dyed by JickyMcJickster,
whose online journal isn't there any more
(otherwise, I'd see what else JmcJ dyed!).
As seen at Freshile Fibers

Sweaterhead has some lovely yarn from Hello Yarn.

Christine's Drop Stitch Scarf,
made from HandMaiden Lady Godiva, in "Dragonfly" Colorway.
(Her son bought her the yarn for Christmas when he was seven. Good eye!)

Yarn attributed to "Claudia", as seen at Fingers' Fancy.
(Yes, you recognize it - it's the rare Wollmeise! It's that Claudia!!)

Susan B. Anderson got some lovely Knitpicks

Back to Unwind Yarn House, for this beautiful Noro Lizard Ridge blanket
I'm sneaky. The Two Unwind Yarn House pics are right next to each other on the page. Yes, this is all a plot to show you more wonderful fibery places on the internet. But you knew that.

FabulousYarn.com has sock yarn that is indeed fabulous.
(Hm, I may have to do some shopping here.)

Finally, Jen, aka Color-Works, got some lovely Sundara Yarn.

Now, if you've got new places to buy yarn, and some new blogs on your list to follow, then I've done my job right! (And hey - if you know of a Beautiful Yarn, let me know about it so I can feature it here!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Spring Pretty

I'm not actually here today, but Monday and yesterday, there was a lot of Spring outside.


Patriotic Pansies

Magnolia Trees

Early Tulips!

Yay for pretty spring!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Startitis: the true first sign of Spring!

So, it's spring, and there wasn't a chance in heck that I wasn't going to start a new project. I found a ball of something - it's cotton and silk, and I've already lost the ball band, so I have no idea who made it! - at In Stitches a few weeks back, and some lovely new Lantern Moon needles. (I love these needles, it's my second pair. I blame having new needles for having to start something.) Since there was just the one ball, and (I vaguely recall) it was something along the order of 400yds, that's not enough for really anything other than a scarf. So, scarf it is! Plus, since I had to figure out feather & fan crochet (which required feather & fan knitting, then translating over) for Liz's baby blanket, I'd been itching (er. Bad choice of word, since the allergy testing...) to start a feather & fan something. So, here it is with George:

George with Feather & Fan Scarf

... and here's a closer shot so you can kinda see it:

Yeah, better pictures needed, once there's more of it. Also, Deb at work got me these lovely little stitch markers!!


Of course, I'm gonna have to start something new *again* so I can use these, right? . . . Right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bookstores are dangerous, they have knitting books.

Got two new knitting books over the weekend. The first, Montse Stanley's Knitting Handbook, was recommended by Arenda Holladay, who teaches the TKGA Basics, Basics, Basics course - and more. If you don't have it yet, I recommend you get it on half.com. I forgot to check there first, and ended up paying a good bit more than $9. But it's a really good resource, and I'm glad I have it in my knitting library now.

The second, Knockdown Knits by Joan of Dark, just spoke to me. In loud, boisterous, happy words. I think I'll probably be making almost ALL the projects in it (which we know is rare)... thereby telling me that I really should find an older girls' roller derby somewhere around here. I frequently need things like slings, cast-covers, bumper pads, etc. Plus, there are some bags I need to knit... and leg-warmers/armwarmers... and a cute little crown... If you see a copy, check it out!

Oh, and I got my homework back from Arenda, too. I didn't do too badly, so I'll be starting my Lesson Two swatches this week. Yay!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shopping Required

Yesterday, my husband was running late from work, and he told me - TOLD ME - to "go shopping or something". So I headed right to Stitch DC in Georgetown. After chatting with N for a while and marveling over all the 80's songs on the radio (and how scary it was that we knew all the words), she got the buttons sewn on her new purple sweater, and I finally actually bought something. To wit, The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters: A Knit-to-Fit Workshop by Lynne Vogel.

This is a really cool book. First, because it has the Knitter Fitter System - all the stuff you actually should measure and figure out when you're about to make a sweater anyway, and in convenient chart form so all the info, once you have it, is Right There. Second, because of the Sweater Map, and how the information from the Knitter Fitter works so you know just what you're going to knit. (Having decided to "wing it" on several sweaters, I can say that I'm probably far luckier in getting things that actually fit than I should be. And I've had a couple of things that just haven't worked at all.)

Now, I was able to get a bunch of lovely royal blue aran-weight sale yarn, enough to make an aran-style sweater, or maybe a belted jackety sort of thing, with a hood (sort of a cross between the Central Park Hoodie and Starsky). Actually getting it to both fit and be flattering, though, had me stymied.

So, I was flipping through Lynne's book, and found Specifically, Gail's Red Aran.

It's not a cardigan, but the sleeves were right, and the front/back could be the back, and a placket wouldn't be that hard, and a modification of the hood from Rogue, the pattern for which I bought ages ago and haven't knit yet, would work and look pretty... and the ideas started to form. So, I'll be having lots of fun with gauge swatches, measuring things, planning for drape, and otherwise giggling happily at myself and my yarn for the better part of the weekend. And maybe in a year or two, I'll have a finished sweater!! Yay!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When the yarn is no more...

Be advised: You Will Not Find This Yarn.

Today's question was going to be: Well, okay, but what if I don't know what sort of yarn I need? This sort of fiber-based confusion can happen to the best of us. The question, however, turned into: Say that the yarn called for by a particular pattern is discontinued (as happens far too frequently for my tastes). What then? Luckily, the internet can save us all! (Yes, I'm mean. All of today's pictures are of yarn we can't get anymore.)

I have a lovely shawl made from copper-colored Moonlight Mohair.

The fun find of the day is DiscontinuedBrandNameYarns.com in Vermont. They don't accept Money Orders, since all stock is limited (well, it would be!). But they're willing to try tracking stuff down for you!

I have a frightening amount of Crystal FX.
No, I'm not giving it up. It's sparkly and fuzzy!!

Or, you can try to find it on your own, which is probably what you do already, right?

eBay (!!) has a friendly Knitting, Crochet & Yarn Buying Guide. Let's face it - if it's discontinued and out there, it's probably on eBay. One of the sellers to check is Stitch in Peace; they specialize in estate sales and store liquidations and other large bulk needlework events. Some things are sold by lot, others are individual. They also do consignment - I keep meaning to send them a couple of boxes of stuff to sell for me, but I just haven't gotten around to it. (Turnaround time can be a while, both for the sale of one's stuff and for when you get your check.)

eHow.com also has a guide to buying yarn here. (It says "for crochet", but if you change the link to "knitting", it redirects to this article. And really, the basic principles are the same. ) There's also the good ol' standby, the Yarn Substitution Chart. Really, if you can find a same-weight, same-fiber yarn in the called-for color - or a color you like even better - it should work, right? Or search for your yarn on Ravelry. Someone might have what you need in their Stash - and be willing to sell or trade!

If you'd rather not flirt with discontinued yarns, a generic search for "best yarn for knitting" will get half a million results or more... and most of the go-to places we buy yarn on the net are right there at the front of the queue. (I like the fact that book results for "best yarn for knitting" brings up the first of the Yarn Harlot's books.) Plus, we have all sorts of resources to find things now - Ravelry, Etsy (click on THAT link and wind up not buying something, I double-dog dare you!), discountyarnsale.com, bargainyarns.com, plus all the amazing folks that have their own shops, spin and/or dye their own yarn, and have their own websites. (Tell me your favorites... please?)

My first "grown up" knitting project used four balls of this stuff.
For a baby blanket that I'm keeping (despite having no baby).
It. Is. The. Softest. Stuff. EVER.

Need something even more specific, say, a new scarf? Yahoo has a wonderfully reply from Carol Q on exactly that. (Would that all internet questions got such detailed answers!)

Cherry Tree Hill: If you see it in person and like it, BUY IT.
It will not come your way again.

Say you've found something - but you aren't quite sure it's The One. Check out KnittersReview.com - there are forums galore, including one dedicated to Seeking Advice About Yarn. There you go, lots of places for you to get started on your next yarn hunt, brought together for you by Yarn on Thursday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

400 posts, and a Shoe.

Wow, 400 posts already? Looks like having to keep a regular posting schedule helps, eh? Okay, look at these:

NewBalance didn't know it, but they made these shoes for ME. For one, I grew up wearing NB (my dad's a serious runner), so it's my shoe of choice. And hot pink with orange laces?? ME!!! Also - they're called "Chipper" - which, again, is ME.

Yes, I bought a pair within seconds of seeing them in the Nine West window on Sunday. No, I'm not wearing them until it's warmer/I've finished wearing out my current pair of sneaks.

It's nice when the marketing machine of the world decides to create things just for me!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I finally turned in my homework...

Saturday morning, I finally got my TKGA Basics, Basics, Basics Lesson #1 in the mail. FINALLY. I had the swatches knitted in three freakin' days - and it took six weeks to get up the courage to block them, and then another three to write up my homework and mail the blasted things. I must do better next time. Anyway, here are my lovely swatches:

In a completely unrelated story, I turned my first-ever absolutely perfect heel last Friday morning, on my second Theseus & the Minotaur sock. I am very pleased that I finally managed to fight off distractions and actually do a heel correctly the Very First Time Out of the Gate.

More knitting fun tomorrow!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The times, they are a-changin'...

Two weeks ago today, we had this:

A foot of snow.

...a FOOT.

One week ago today, we had this:

The first Robin of spring.

The first Crocus of spring...

...and March wind.

Today, we have this:

An ancient oak tree,
lightning struck

(At Woodlawn Plantation)

... and a back patio visited by Yard Elves!

We also have allergies again, but that's another post....!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meet Wendy D. Johnson in Person!

Wendy says:

"I can tell you right now, I’ll be doing a book signing at Knit Happens in Alexandria, VA on Saturday April 18, beginning at 2pm. It’ll be an informal event, and I’ll have the actual socks from the book for you to take a look at. I hope to see as many of you there as possible. Bring your socks."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sometimes, the moth hunts YOU.

Today's topic: Lepidopterology (lep-i-dop-tuh-ROL-uh-jee): The study of butterflies and moths.

There are horror tales of Moth Attack out there in the knitting world. Knittn'B's Evil Moth Bastards, Part I and Part II, Yarn Harlot's list of Things, which of course includes Evil Moths (see #99). Okay, yarn gets attacked. But sometimes, the moths attack YOU. Really. It happened to me.

Long ago, my family moved stateside from South Korea - to Pennsylvania, where my dad attended the War College. We came back with lots of amazing, lovely carved furniture from, naturally, South Korea. It was pretty, and I got to keep the very-elaborately carved chest in my room, provided I was careful. I was.


That summer, all the eggs that we had carried across the Pacific, unbeknownst to us in the lovely carved chest, HATCHED. We didn't spot anything until it was too late. My bedroom was full of moths ALL summer - flying everywhere. Moths in my underwear drawer. Moths tormenting my hamster. Moths. IN. MY. HAIR!!! when I woke up. Now, being a Tough Army Brat (tm), I didn't want to complain, and since I hadn't quite hit my tweens, I braved it out for a day or two before telling my parents that I thought, just maybe, something odd was happening in my room.

My parents, both of whom had run nature camps in their younger days, realized immediately that "odd" didn't quite cover it; HIDEOUS INFESTATION OF MOTHS was more accurate. Everything in my room was taken outside, plus anything that might hold a moth (sofas, chairs, clothing, etc.), there to decorate the grounds in front of Young Hall in the bright light of day. Moths were exterminated on sight, the apartment was bug bombed (and the Army, back then, had their mitts on some REALLY effective insecticides), and Mom (and more Lysol than the state of Pennsylvania has had since) eradicated them all. I still slept lightly for the rest of the summer, and didn't get a single mosquito bite for the next three years - if it flew near me, I saw it, and it DIED.

I will say that having the Moth Problem made the onset of my teenage years much less traumatic than it is for a lot of girls. Who needs to wallow in teenage angst when they've got MOTHS?

So I'm a bit more relaxed at the thought of seeing a moth in my yarn - it's not trying to attack me. And it won't actually be able to get anywhere near my yarn... from the mothballs around the perimeter of the building (they keep out ants, too) to the cedar blocks and moth-repellent soap chips sprinkled liberally throughout the house, moths just can't survive. I deem these precautions necessary - not so much to prevent moths, but because I really don't want my husband to see me when confronted with a moth. He doesn't think I'm crazy, and I'd like to keep it that way!

A side note: I haven't seen any moths I'd actually consider allowing to live since... until the pretty pic of the Elegant Sheep Moth.

(Mind you, it might still freak out if I see it in person... but in photograph form, it's OK. And I'm a bit weirded out that there's an entire group dedicated to Moth Photography but I'll chalk it up to being a case of needing to Identify The Enemy Properly.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yarn on Thursday. What if you don't have yarn?

No yarn today - it's been a tough week. However, there's a cool way to make sure you save up for more yarn:

It was out of stock the last time I checked the link, but I'm sure they'll be getting more in, since it's the best-selling item on the site right now!!

Or, you could hit your local toy store and get one of these:

The rule is "put any pocket change at the end of the day in the bank". So far, I almost have enough for a skein of the cool new Trekker sock yarn!!